Thursday, December 3, 2009

Today's Train of Thought- Centenarian!? She Doesn't Look a Day Over 93!

(Nevada Northern Railway)

2009 marks the 100th birthday of the Nevada Northern Railway's 2-8-0 #93. Built in 1909 at the American Locomotive Company's Pittsburgh works for the American Smelters Securities/Nevada Consolidated Copper Company, she served the copper mines and Nevada Northern Railway in and around Ely, NV until the mine's then-owner, Kennecott Copper, retired her in the early 1960s with the dieselization of the mining railway's fleet. The #93 was donated by Kennecott to the White Pine County Public Museum where volunteers eventually restored her to working order.

Kennecott closed down their mining operations around Ruth and Ely in 1978 and the smelter in 1983. The 140-mile line connecting the former Southern Pacific (now Union Pacific) at Cobre, NV to East Ely has been mostly disused since 1983- with Australia's Broken Hill Properties (BHP) operating the 120-mile portion of the Nevada Northern between the mines at Ruth and the former Western Pacific (now Union Pacific) interchange at Shafter from 1996 to 1999. In 2006, the city of Ely acquired the Ely-Cobre section of the line. There have been on-again/off-again plans for a coal-fired generating station to be built along the NN right-of-way around East Ely, but those plans were postponed as of Febuary 2009.

The lines directly servicing the former mining site between East Ely, McGill and Ruth were donated by Kennecott Copper to the White Pine Historical Railroad foundation. In it's present incarnation the Nevada Northern is, in effect, an open-air railway museum. In fact, in September 2006 the Nevada Northern yard, engine house, locomotives and rolling stock were recognized by the National Parks Service as a National Historic Landmark. Unsurprisingly, the NN also rosters three diesels- however, the newest of these was built in 1956.

Which brings us back to the Centenarian #93. Here, she's seen with a cut of hopper cars, throwing out plumes of smoke and steam against the deep blue skies of a high desert winter's day in Febuary 2007 on a photographer's special between East Ely and Ruth, NV.

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